Man jailed for stabbing ex-girlfriend to death

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The former boyfriend of a “prodigiously talented” maths graduate has been jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years after admitting her murder.

Joe Atkinson, 25, pleaded guilty to stabbing Poppy Devey Waterhouse to death in an attack “fuelled by jealousy” at a block of flats in Leeds last year.

Prosecutors said the 25-year-old had failed to come to terms with Ms Devey Waterhouse breaking off their three-year relationship, which ended in October 2018.

In the early hours of 14 December, Atkinson burst into the flat he still shared with his former girlfriend and used a kitchen knife to inflict more than 100 separate injuries.

Ms Devey Waterhouse suffered 49 knife injuries and 23 stab wounds all over her body during the attack.

Emergency services arrived at the flat after receiving reports of an “assault by stabbing”, but the 24-year-old was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim’s mother, Julie Devey, read out a powerful victim statement in court detailing the pain she felt after her daughter’s murder.

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Image: Joe Atkinson was tried at Leeds Crown Court

She said: “As a parent, my basic duty is to make sure that I keep my children safe.

“I failed, and I have to carry that failure with me at all times, wherever I go, whoever I am with, whatever I am doing.”

She added: “I kept scraping my hands across the floor boards where she had been left screaming and dying.

“I just wanted to scoop her up and save her.

“I now live my life with a split-screen, on one half I can see the now, and on the other half that horrific scene.”

Atkinson initially denied murder, but later reversed his plea.

Prosecutor Jason Pitter told the court how the 25-year-old “armed himself with a kitchen knife and murdered Poppy in an unprovoked attack fuelled by jealousy”.

He added: “Poppy Devey Waterhouse was a prodigiously talented mathematician, who was described as brilliant and beautiful who, at the age of 24, had her whole life ahead of her.

“It was a life cruelly taken away from her just before Christmas last year, because this defendant realised he was not going to be a part of this future.”
The former couple met while studying at Nottingham University.

Ms Devey Waterhouse, who was originally from Frome in Somerset, worked as an analyst for William Hill.


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